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January 28, 2021 – CalEPA’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) announces the release of its final report, Achieving the Human Right to Water in California: An Assessment of the State’s Community Water Systems and web-based Data Tool (CalHRTW 1.0). This tool is key to monitoring the state’s progress in achieving the human right to water and marks the first holistic approach to evaluating water quality, accessibility, and affordability across the state’s more than 2000 active community water systems. 

“Information access is a key part of the human right to water and so many other environmental justice challenges we face as a state” said CalEPA Deputy Secretary for Environmental Justice, Tribal Affairs, and Border Relations, Yana Garcia, “which is why developing this data-driven approach to evaluating drinking water issues was so important to us.” “We are excited to add this tool to others we have, like CalEnviroScreen, that deliver key information to policymakers and to the public about issues affecting their communities,” adds OEHHA Director Lauren Zeise. 

“AB 685—the human right to water law—made California the first state in the nation to recognize access to clean, safe, and affordable water as a fundamental right,” said State Water Resources Control Board Chair E. Joaquin Esquivel. “Translating that right into a reality is our challenge. This tool underscores our commitment to monitoring our progress as a state, and we are grateful to OEHHA for their synthesis and contribution to this generational effort.”

The report and web-based data tool provide multiple uses for community members, water purveyors, academic researchers, and local and state policy-makers. The tool offers a state-level snapshot of baseline drinking water conditions by measuring nine indicators across three main areas: water quality, accessibility, and affordability. Users can assess overall trends within and across community water systems, compare regional differences; and screen for challenges and successes by system, region, or statewide. 

The tool also features examples showing how to examine human right to water outcomes in relation to social equity measures. As future versions of the tool are released, users can see how water systems change over time, and monitor California’s progress toward ensuring accessible, safe, and affordable drinking water. 

Susana De Anda of the Community Water Center (CWC), an organization focused on delivering the human right to water across California, said that their organization “welcomes this important tool being made available for public use. This resource will help communities better understand and measure progress being made towards securing the Human Right to Water for all Californians.”

For more information on the report and tool, please see: https://oehha.ca.gov/water/report/human-right-water-california